EDIT: The Nationwide E-invoicing Network was renamed InvoiceNow in September 2020. This blog post has been edited to reflect the new name.
If your business relied on a paper-based invoicing process in the past, you’ve probably experienced difficulties and delays in sending and receiving invoices and payments from your customers and suppliers in the last few months.
Even after the end of the Circuit Breaker and the reopening of Singapore, the way business is done will change greatly in the "New Normal". This will lead to much uncertainty for the foreseeable future, and means that you can't rely on paper-based invoices like you could before.
Recognising the many benefits of electronic invoicing (or e-invoicing), the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) had set up the Nationwide E-invoicing Network back in 2019, with the intent to help local businesses transition easily and quickly to e-invoicing through the Network.
Based on the PEPPOL Network, the Nationwide E-invoicing Network was renamed InvoiceNow in September 2020, and is now being promoted by IMDA as a means of helping businesses facilitate their WFH arrangements beyond the end of the Circuit Breaker period.
To encourage businesses to register for the Nationwide E-invoicing Network, IMDA offered the E-invoicing Registration Grant, which provided businesses a one-time payment of S$200 if they signed up with InvoiceNow by 31 December 2020.
But if you have any questions about InvoiceNow in mind before deciding whether to sign up, we’ve put together some answers to frequently-asked questions about it below for your reference.
What Are The Benefits Of E-invoicing?
When you sign up for InvoiceNow through a certified service provider such as SESAMi, you'll be assigned a Peppol Network Access Point (AP), which enables e-invoicing options for your business.
Instead of sending and receiving invoices in different formats through multiple channels, your customers and suppliers can send and receive e-invoices from your business through the single channel that is your AP.
This offers the following key benefits for your business:
- Reduce data error and prevents fraud, which saves costs on the error handling process
- Increases productivity by automating current manual processes
- Helps your business get paid faster by compressing the payment processing time
- Improves your business’s relationships between your customers and suppliers.
Since SESAMi has also been appointed as the service provider for the Ministry of Finance's Accountant General's Department (MOF-AGD), you can also send e-invoices directly to the Government through the Network.
How Does The Peppol Network Work?
To understand InvoiceNow, we must first understand the Peppol e-Delivery Network which it is based off of.
The Pan-European Public Procurement OnLine (Peppol) e-Delivery Network is an invoicing standard which originated from the European Union (EU).
It's a set of technical specifications that can be implemented in e-procurement solutions and e-business exchange systems, allowing a business to exchange e-invoices through the Peppol e-Delivery Network with a certified Peppol Access Point (AP).
Peppol was adopted as the foundation of InvoiceNow by IMDA, as it provided a structured digital format that facilitates the exchange of e-invoices between business entities.
The Peppol e-Delivery Network uses a 4-Corner Model which consists of the sender of an invoice, the receiver of the same invoice, and their respective AP providers. A transaction through Peppol goes through the following steps:
- The Seller sends an e-invoice to the Buyer through their appointed Peppol Sender AP.
- The Seller’s Peppol Sender AP sends the e-invoice to the Buyer’s Peppol Receiver AP.
- The Buyer’s Peppol Receiver AP receives the e-invoice and sends it to the Buyer
- The Buyer receives the e-invoice from their Peppol Receiver AP, and processes the payment.
The communication between the APs of both the Seller and Buyer are encrypted, and use digital signatures to ensure that data that is transmitted through the Peppol Network is secure.
Take a look at the infographic below from SESAMi to get an idea of how the Peppol Network transmits and receives e-invoices for your business:
Now that you know the basics of the Peppol e-Delivery Network, let’s take a look at how you can sign up for InvoiceNow.
What Are My Options For Signing Up With InvoiceNow?
SESAMi offers three types of Peppol solution offerings which caters to your business’s specific needs. These options are as follows:
Basic Peppol Ready System
Allows your buyers and suppliers to perform registration, as well as direct data entry. Your buyer or supplier may enter data directly into their Peppol Ready system, which generates and then sends an invoice through the Network to your system, which you can then view.
Enhanced Peppol Ready System
In addition to the features in the Basic system, the Enhanced Peppol Ready System allows your buyers and suppliers to perform bulk invoice uploads/downloads through Excel integration. This means they can easily send multiple invoices to your business, and you can download invoice data to Excel spreadsheets just as easily.
Auto-connect Peppol Ready System
In addition to the features in the Basic and Enhanced systems, the Auto-connect Peppol Ready System option offers a web service API which will integrate with your business's ERP software to enable access to the SESAMi Web Portal through the ERP solution.
The Benefits Of A Peppol Ready ERP Software
We can also assist you with the implementation of Sage 300 ERP, another ERP software that's Peppol-ready throughInvoiceNow.
If you’re thinking about implementing, or are already using any of these three ERP software in your business, we recommend making your business Peppol-ready as well by integrating the SESAMi Invoice Marketplace into your ERP software of choice.
With this integration, you can use your ERP software to generate Peppol invoice XML files, which the API can then send to a recipient's AP via the Peppol Network.
The API will also receive incoming e-invoices from your AP, and your ERP software can then integrate the data in these e-invoices with your accounting and financial modules.
This means you can not only use your ERP software to automatically generate and receive e-invoices through the SESAMi Web Portal, but all changes in the financial figures of your business are automatically updated and reflected as a result, ensuring you retain a real-time insight on your accounts.
If you're interested in joining InvoiceNow, and are already looking for an ERP solution that can integrate the SESAMi Invoice Marketplace, do contact us so our consultants can show you your options.
Becoming Peppol-Ready With InvoiceNow
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown why it is necessary for businesses to digitalise their business functions, including some of the most basic functions like invoicing.
Even after the end of the Circuit Breaker period, WFH arrangements will be here to stay for the long term while Singapore goes through successive phases of Safe Reopening over the next few months.
Since paper-based invoicing will remain difficult if not impossible in the foreseeable future, now would be a good time to transition your business towards e-invoicing.
Digitalising your invoicing processes by transitioning to e-invoicing will give your accounting staff the tools to process e-invoices even while working from home, and is also an easy first step on a long-term digital transformation for your business as well.
InvoiceNow offers your business a means of transitioning to e-invoicing quickly and easily, and SESAMi’s Invoice Marketplace offers an option that will also allow your business to easily manage invoices and payments related to the Government of Singapore.
Therefore, there’s plenty of reason for your business to take the step towards transitioning to e-invoicing today.
To learn more about government grants that your business may be eligible for, click the image below to read our guide to government grants that can power your digital transformation efforts.